I am a mum of three, and live in Marlow. I completed the Early Years PGCE teaching qualification in 2019 and became a certified Forest School leader in 2021. I am fascinated by all aspects of child development, and did further study on the beneficial effects of being in nature for learning in children and young people. This, combined with the ancient woodland on our property, inspired the idea to create a Forest School experience for our children which we are now sharing with others at Hill Cottage Woods. Now I am excited to be partnering with Frieth School, being involved in the development of a Forest School site on the school grounds, and delivering a programme for all years through the seasons.
What is Forest School?
The philosophy that underpins Forest School is to reap all the benefits that come through direct interaction with our natural surroundings and being outdoors in all weathers. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of free play and independent exploration.
Forest School activities include:
- Den building and tree climbing
- Building a campfire, cooking and telling stories
- Group games such as hide and seek, and scavenger hunts
- Bark rubbings, leaf mosaics and wood art
- Learning to identify trees and plants, sowing seeds and nurturing their growth
- Bug hunts
- Using tools to make simple crafts using natural materials
Such activities naturally develop language, teamwork, reasoning skills and perseverance. The Forest School is a safe space where children can foster their confidence to assess and take manageable risks, promote creative thinking, and understand their role in looking after the environment. This approach derives from Scandinavian countries’ long-held embrace of the outdoors, and also draws upon the learning theories of Jean Piaget, Reggio Emilia and Maria Montessori, to name a few.
Forest School has hit the ground running with Reception. The children had fun coming up with their own Forest School names before improvising tales of little people, dragons and fairies. This inspired their den building and friendship bracelets. We had just enough time for reflection and a sing song at the end!
We donned our wellies and waterproofs ready for the torrential rain. This brought about child initiated 'Peppa Pig' style jumping through muddy puddles. We found time to fit in some environmental art with some lovely, creative ideas from the children. We had kites flying, trees, smiley faces and a collage of natural objects. Last but not least, we composed our own forest school song. Our favourite quote of the week from A.Owl:
"BEST DAY EVER!!"
Great to be back at forest school after the Xmas break. We were pleased to hear the children were able to remember their forest school names and actions after what felt like such a long time away. we kicked off the year making a celebration cake for the little people, in true forest school style we used mud for the "cake mix" and the natural environment to decorate them.
Sadly it was Owls last forest school session, but the sun shone and we had a great time celebrating our forest school adventure. We made natures headdresses and we created pictures of our forest school names on woodland discs. We would like to say a final thank you to the children and here's a list of their forest school names Owl, Woodland, Fox, Tree, Leaf, Cat, Apple, Hornet, Jaguar and last but not least Oak. Until next time...Squirrel and Cheetah.
Year 1 enthusiastically set off on their forest school journey, as always picking their forest school names before anything else. We played the bean bag game in order to remember our new forest school names before we entered the world of the little people and goblins. While some children were making miniature dens others were making woodland bracelets. After reflection time the children had fun jumping through muddy puddles with just enough time to have a sing song at the end of the session. WHOOP WHOOP cant wait for next week... what will the forest have next in store for us?
Storm Dennis tried to hamper our forest school adventures this week. sadly our forest school area was deemed to be unsafe for the children, however we didn't let this stop us. We started our week with a team building exercise using a hula hoop, this brought around great fun as we were not allowed to use our hands, just our bodies to move it from person to person. then we moved on to making woodland clay monsters as you can see from the photos these were really successful.
This week we recruited a new member to our forest school team (Slug) Mrs Bryan as she stood in for Squirrel, the children were eager and excited to share their forest school names with her. We started with a fun team building game using a large piece of string to create shapes using our senses and bodies, the children found keeping their eyes closed a challenge! Later we made celebration cakes (mud pies) which the children decorated with icing and candles, it was wonderful to see the children using their imagination. We drew the session to a close with some reflection time discussing what made the children feel happy, it was great to hear at the top of the list was spending time with the family, it officially turned us into mud pies.
"I wish it was forest school everyday" it sums up this weeks session, toasting marshmallows on the open fire, making our teachers and other pupils jealous with smores. After having a safety talk with the children they were split up into small groups to make smores, whilst the others were with slug making potions. We had beaming smiles, with lots of full tummies with the quote at the beginning from this text from the children "I wish it was forest school everyday".
Forest School got off to a bang with Buzzards, and what great weather it was for it to. They had good fun picking new names such as Mushroom, Zebra and Fire; you should have seen the smiles on their faces! This week they created their own art work with things they could find in the natural environment, we had faces and reefs just to name a few.
Well done Buzzards looking forward to our session next week!
We battled against the wind; but we made some spectacular mud paint in order to paint a picture of what we loved about the environment in our art books. We enjoyed sitting down during reflection and discussing what we felt we could do more of in order to help protect the environment around us, with some fabulous ideas on the horizon.